Chiang Mai – Day Trip To Hmong Village & Doi Suthep

After walking around the old city, it was just so hot we needed a break.  We walked into the nearest tour agency and asked what they had possible for that afternoon as it was already 11am-ish.  They did have a few tours scheduled as half-day afternoon trips so we decided on one which visited a Hmong Village and Doi Suthep (hoping to see birds there).

We grabbed some snacks and went back to the tour operator where the minibus picked us up and drover around town picking up other people.  Then we made our way slowly up the mountain.  The scenery was stunning!

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The Hmong Village was very touristy but the handicrafts on offer were priced well and we bought a few embroidered bags, then relaxed in the garden.  Not many birds around though.

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Then we went back down the mountain a bit to Doi Suthep which is a large, ornate temple on a hill.  Some people bravely walked up the stairs but most of us took the cable car up.  Our guide showed us around, then gave us half an hour free time to take photos.

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Still looking for birds, at least we found a nest!

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This is why you don’t want to rent a car to drive around Chiang Mai city.  The back alleys are so tight that large trucks can get stuck – in front of YOU!  While dropping off one of the tourists after the excursion, we were trapped for about 15 minutes while this truck driver jiggled around parked cars.  It was actually pretty entertaining as we weren’t in a hurry but would have been less so if we were trying to get to the airport!

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Back To Chiang Mai

Having finished our brief birding adventures in Doi Inthanon and Mae Ping, we now headed back to Chiang Mai for a couple days of R&R.

Here’s a few interesting shots as we drove back.

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It’s a bit hazy but there’s a giant reclining Buddha on the hill!  This marks the road where you turn left to go from Chiang Mai to Mae Ping.

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Spirit Houses


Huge bird statue


Sad to see bird in cages, especially after seeing them flying free!

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After returning the car, we decided to relax with a massage.

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Anusarn Might Bazaar

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Israeli food for dinner!

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I’ve done a fish spa before, it’s a strange sensation!


Morning stroll to the old city.

IMG_0342 IMG_0344 IMG_0345 IMG_0346 IMG_0347 IMG_0348 IMG_0349 IMG_0358 IMG_0350 IMG_0357We stayed in the same Lannathai Guesthouse as the first night we arrived, very conveniently located near the night bazaar.

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A Day Trip To Doi Inthanon – Km 34.5

Doi Inthanon is one of Thailand’s top national parks, has a good bird list and is easily reached from Chiang Mai so I highly recommend a visit here.  You can combine this park with the Blossom-headed Parakeet Conservation Area just outside.

There are some excellent maps here.

Get there early to be in position when the birds wake up and start foraging.  This makes the tourist day trips from Chiang Mai less attractive as you would get there too late.  We had a rental car from Hertz and the independence was great!


A Red-whiskered Bulbul welcomed us in as I paid the fee – 400 Baht each in cash only.


We drove up the mountain admiring the interesting statues along the road.

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We stopped at a picnic ground and ate the packed breakfast from the lodge.  Not many birds were around.

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We continued on and came to Mr Daeng’s Bird Centre which is well known amongst birders as a great place to learn about local birds.  They have a nice restaurant but since we had breakfast we just had some tea and decided to come back for lunch.  What I didn’t know before is that they also have lodging so you can start out earlier to the birding trails.  You can buy a small guidebook here to help identify the birds.  Bulbuls and Sparrows were everywhere.

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Our next stop was the trail at KM 34.5 which is well marked.  There is a place to park off road at the bottom, then you walk up the hill looking for birds. I didn’t too too well with photos so I recommend reading this page to see better photos as an idea of what birds are found here.

We saw several Grey-chinned Minivets as you can see in the photos below.  The males are red and females are yellow.

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Large Niltava

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Ashy Drongo. We also saw a Lesser Racquet-tailed Drongo but he got away before I could get a photo.

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Our car and parking area as seen walking back down the hill.


Chiang Mai As An Eco-tourism Gateway

Chiang Mai is one of the most popular cities in one of the world’s most popular countries to travel in and there are 1000’s of blogs that specialize in travel to Thailand.  I am only going to cover Chiang Mai as the gateway to several fantastic parks in which you can enjoy Thailand’s best birding.  In the map below, you can see just how close you are to Doi Lang, Doi Ang Khang (name not on map, 2nd yellow line) north of Chiang Mai and Doi Inthanon and Mae Ping south of Chiang Mai.


Arriving at the airport, it is easiest to get one of the flat fare taxis to your hotel.  If you fly straight through from Australia with the Bangok connection, you will arrive in Chiang Mai late at night.  Whatever you do, don’t rent a car if you are spending any time in the city.  It’s very difficult to negotiate the small back streets and you are likely to get lost.  Use taxis and tuktuks while in Chiang Mai

Once you are ready to leave the city and get to the parks, you will need a rental car.  Most car hire companies are located at the airport.  Chiang Mai’s airport also has a variety of fast food places and coffee bars for a quick snack.

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We rented from Hertz and were very happy with the service.  As usual, I took photos of the car and had no problem when returning it.



Just about every hotel chain (except Club Carlson) is represented here.  I chose to go indie because hotels are so cheap here I didn’t think it was a good use of hotel points and prefer to save them for expensive countries.  I booked the Lannathai Guesthouse on because it was cheap, well located and counted as one of 10 bookings to get a free night in Welcome Rewards.  This place cost around $12 and was fine for one night pre-birding and 2 nights post birding.  It’s right in the middle of the night bazaar and there are lots of small spas to get a massage.  In a later post, I will go into how we spent our 2  post-birding days.

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Our first birds in Thailand, these little bulbuls on the Spirit House.


Having a suit tailor made is a good idea while in Chiang Mai.  Order your suit before you go birding, then go back for fittings afterwards.  This Armani shop was the cheapest in the night bazaar and did a good job on my suit.

IMG_9787After ordering my suit, we took a tuktuk to the airport to get the car and headed off to Doi Inthanon.